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Sun 10 Jun 2018 12:20 PM

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Entrepreneur of the Week: Tnerit's Ali and Hussain Al Abbas

A platform for Dubai-based brothers looks to harness the emerging possibilities of the sharing economy in the region

Entrepreneur of the Week: Tnerit's Ali and Hussain Al Abbas
Ali Ebrahim Al Abbas and Hussain Ebrahim Al Abbas

With the concept of a sharing economy becoming increasingly popular among the younger generation in the region, Emirati brothers Ali and Hussain Al Abbas jumped at the opportunity to launch their own business in the nascent sector. Tnerit, which plays on the spelling of “rentit”, allows users to lend and borrow items ranging from homeware to fashion through an app.

The co-founders, who are self-funding the venture, tell Arabian Business why they almost gave up halfway through the development stage but how they ended up learning not to “give up or give in”.

How did the idea of Tnerit come about?

We were looking at some patterns in current businesses and realised the significant potential of the sharing economy, particularly Peer-to-Peer (P2P) renting of items. Not only is it a market with multiple opportunities, but it is also necessary for our generation considering limited living spaces, the desire to save money, sustainability and the promise of an additional income.

What is your business model?

Tnerit charges both borrowers and lenders a “rental fee” or transaction fee of 11 and seven percent respectively. The fee allows us to cover our operating costs and continue to enhance the user experience.

Is the regional rental market largely untapped?

Although opportunities in the regional rental market still exist, it is worth noting that P2P renting is a relatively new concept based on trust, meaning it requires a significant amount of effort to be directed towards educating users of the benefits associated with the sharing of items. Thus, such a challenge may not seem fruitful to entrepreneurs looking for a simplified approach.

What were some of the challenges you encountered while setting up Tnerit?

We did not have a business model to study, analyse or even replicate; something that would have helped us innovate faster. We created an entirely new model based on what we envisioned an online rental marketplace must encompass and accommodate. One of the greatest challenges we are facing today is educating potential users on the benefits of using Tnerit, both as borrowers and/or lenders. This is a long-term mission that we are excited to undertake.

We learned the importance of patience and focus in achieving success. It is crucial that any entrepreneur striving to succeed remains patient”

How do you deal with competition considering there are similar websites?

Competition is healthy, although, challenges develop with it. We believe Tnerit’s competitive advantage is the user experience it provides via the app, which is accessible through the App Store and Google Play, allowing both borrowers and lenders to operate on the go. And we will continue to enhance our app, aiming to stay ahead of competition through innovative developments.

Were you ever afraid to set up your own business? More importantly, how did you overcome that fear?

Although we were not afraid, we were cautious of starting a business with an initially undefined endpoint. We were worried that the pace we were working at was not in line with the ever-changing market standards. However, we were patient and focused on achieving each and every goal, no matter the challenges faced.

Was there a moment you felt you were going to fail?

Yes. Half-way through the development stage we had issues connecting some of the business processes to ensure a seamless user experience. Initially, we had everything mapped but as we progressed through the development of the app, we needed to further tweak the business model to avoid compromising the user experience. We engaged in multiple brainstorming sessions internally, and focus groups externally, to gather ideas as potential innovative solutions. As entrepreneurs, we learned the importance of patience and focus in achieving success. It is crucial that any entrepreneur striving to succeed remains patient and doesn’t give up or give in.

What are your future plans for Tnerit? Where do you wish to expand and when? What is your vision for the business?

We plan to introduce an insurance policy for items listed by lenders in the near future, as well as a delivery service. Additionally, we plan to launch Tnerit in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah in 2019, expanding further to the GCC by 2021. Our vision has always been clear: to allow users to earn and save money.

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